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The Language of New Media

December 3, 2009

I just discovered a post on Gideon Burton’s blog (Oct. 31 2009) titled: “Is Academia ready for Second Life?“. I spent a lot of time exploring 3D “online communities” and I rarely came across an artifact or experience that really seemed to work. You can find a lot of avatars clustered around the entery points trying to remember why they came, acres of buildings (many unfinished), and not much to do. Converation is rare and limited. I left the following comment in response to Gideon’s post:

I think our basic assumptions about the nature and potential uses of Second Life and other graphically intensive, 3D virtual environments are wrong. Digital actors, furniture, buildings, and spaces differ from their physical counterparts in fundamental ways. The best designers in Second Life, There, ActiveWorlds, and similar sites seem to understand (or at least have a feeling for) these differences. A simulated 3D environment works much better as a MODE of communication than as a SITE for communication. My favourite virtual places succeed as 3D “essays” that can be “read” by navigating through them. This is a new language, not a new frontier. Perhaps our students (and others) could help us to understand it, but we would have to get into the sandbox with them.

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